Review: Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder

Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder
Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature-Deficit Disorder by Richard Louv

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

I desperately wish this was a book that I could recommend, but I can't. I wish that the author built solid arguments based on proven research and logic. Instead, while I wholeheartedly agree with the main sentiment, I find myself at a loss at who I could recommend this to.

Last Child in the Woods sets out to demonstrate how the modern child, through a lack of interaction with nature, has experienced a development failure. In order to combat this problem, we must find ways to reintegrate our children with nature. There are tidbits of excellent advice based on research throughout, such as research that shows when children use all of their senses to absorb information they are much more likely to retain it. This is in contrast to our modern classroom environment where students are lectured to and observe examples on the board, then asked to repeat them at home. In this way, children are only experiencing one or two senses in tandem. Moving the learning environment outdoors exposes the child to all of their senses at once.

I was looking for this book to provide the following:
- A definition of the problem (identify specific developmental issues in children)
- A definition of the root cause (lack of exposure to nature), along with properly cited research to bolster that claim
- Proposals for addressing the root cause (public, private, and personal) as well as properly cited research that demonstrates how these efforts are effective

This type of structured argument is not found in this book. What the book does provide is unstructured rambling that tries to cover too much territory in too shallow of detail. It is for that reason that I can't take it to my local, state, and federal representatives. I can't recommend this book to the school board. Instead, I'm left with a book that appeals to me emotionally, but leaves me with no ammunition to argue that we should make broader efforts to expose our children to nature. If there is one element of the book that I would recommend, it would be the last 70 or so pages where Louv provides concrete recommendations on activities to undertake, community actions, and further reading.

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Jade Mason